Thursday, 4 March 2010

Thursday 4th March

We are in Hanoi! We set out to tour the Old Quarter this morning. It is a crazy maze of narrow streets, filled with motor bikes, food sellers, beggars, weird smells and tooting horns. Everything is for sale from nails to silk, from paper money (for burning) to cubic zirconia "real" rubies. There is a blacksmiths street where they are welding and angle grinding on the pavement: A spice street, which smells amazing but all the substances are completely unidentifiable, could well be ground extract of rat for all we can tell. We entered at 9am and emerged 6 hours later - having purchased a tube of glue (to mend Caroline's sandals), a bottle brush (impossible to find in UK), 4 bananas (?) and a wood block print of a carp looking at the moon (??). It was a brilliantly entertaining day tho'.

One of the local customs is for each shop to give you a business card (whether you want it or not) as you leave. In a small museum that we visited Caroline managed to lose one of the business cards that we actually wanted. You can see what happened in the photos. Doh.

In the evening we get tickets for the water puppet show. Imagine a half submerged Punch and Judy with orchestral accompaniment, there was some hilarious slapstick which transcended the language barrier. Puppeteers operate the wooden & fabric puppets from behind a screen and emerge soaked up to their necks at the end of the performance. Apparently they have been given waders recently to reduce the incidence of water borne diseases...hmmmm?! And I thought it was some opaque dermatologically-tested colourant in the water!

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